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G7, Tech Giants Agree to Block Extremist Content Online

G7, Tech Giants Agree to Block Extremist Content Online

Saturday, 21 October, 2017 - 07:30
From left, European Commissioner for Security Union Julian King, United States' Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Canada's Minister of Public Safety Ralph Edward Goodale and Italy's Minister of Interior Marco Minniti attend the G7 Ministers of the Interiors meeting on the island of Ischia, near Naples, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)

G7 countries and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter on Friday agreed to work together to block the dissemination of extremism over the internet.

"These are the first steps towards a great alliance in the name of freedom,"  Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said after a two-day meeting with his Group of Seven counterparts, stressing the role of the internet in extremist "recruitment, training and radicalization."

Officials said the goal was to ensure pro-”jihadist” content is taken down within two hours of it going online.

"Our enemies are moving at the speed of a tweet and we need to counter them just as quickly," acting US Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said.

While acknowledging progress had been made, Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd insisted "companies need to go further and faster to not only take down extremist content but also stop it being uploaded in the first place".

The meeting on the Italian island of Ischia off Naples also focused on ways to tackle one of the West's biggest security threats: militants fleeing Syria and returning to Europe.

Tens of thousands of citizens from Western countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS between 2014 and 2016. Some then returned home and staged attacks that claimed dozens of lives.

Minniti warned last week that fighters planning revenge attacks following the recent collapse of the ISIS stronghold in Syria’s Raqqa could hitch lifts back to Europe on migrant boats from Libya.

The US and Italy signed an agreement on the sidelines of the G7 meeting to share their fingerprint databases in a bid to root out potential extremists posing as asylum seekers.

Earlier, EU President Donald Tusk promised the bloc would fork out more funds to help shut down the perilous crossing from Libya to Italy.

The EU would offer "stronger support for Italy's work with the Libyan authorities", and there was "a real chance of closing the central Mediterranean route", he said.

Italy has played a major role in training Libya's coastguard to stop human trafficking in its territorial waters, as well as making controversial deals with Libyan militias to stop migrants from setting off.

Minniti said the G7 ministers had discussed how to go about "de-radicalising" citizens returning from the ISIS frontline, to prevent them becoming security risks in jails.

The Group of Seven --- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US -- said it had also called on the web giants to work with their smaller partners to bolster the anti-extremism shield.

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